My Passport Essential USB 3.0 500 GB - first experience

I’ve just purchased this drive and thought sharing some gotchas may help to new users

and save them some precious nerve cells.

The following points are not documented or clarified in the user manual (please correct me if I’m wrong),

and search on the forums brought some contradictory results.

  1. The pop-up to install WD SES driver was a total surprise for me, this step is not describes in “Getting started” section

(the manual (PDF) is dated  10-02-2011)

 The “WD SES device” on WinXP was detected first. At this time the USB drive is not installed yet,

so user cannot locate and install the driver preinstalled on the USB drive.

However if the machine is connected to internet, and search for drivers on WU is enabled, Windows Update will find the SES driver.

Until user completely dismisses all the popups for the SES device, installation of the storage part won’t go on.

My normal user account is not administrator, so failure to install the SES driver was quite a hoop.

I did not know that I can skip the “SES” driver, so  had to log-on as admin and install the driver -

only to find that it was not nesessary at all.

2.  “SmartWare” on Win7 SP1 has a weird GUI glitch (see my previous post).

  1. The Unlocker program on the VCD must be run as administrator.

Otherwise, it will fail to start with a popup message:

“The application has encountered an unexpected error and is now exiting.”

Installation of the SES driver is _not_ required to unlock the drive: User can just cancel out from the “wizard” and leave it not installed.

Win7 automatically starts Unlocker elevated and user must accept the UAC popup - or the unlocker won’t run.

  1. Size: the useful size of the 500GB drive (sum of preinstalled files and free space) for my drive is actually 500,073,230,336 bytes - displayed by Windows as 465GB. Not 500.

Neither the package nor the product info on the web site cares to tell how WD counts these gigabytes

( it says however that it is ~ 125,000 songs).

It is not clear whether 600 MB can be recovered by deletion of the unlocker VCD partition, as has been discussed in the forum. Size of files on the VCD is only 22,7 MB. But all the preinstalled files on the disk can be easily deleted, and all the space is freed.


– ddbug

1- Yep.

2- Yep.

3- Yep.

4- Industry standard to count as decimal, but Windows counts as binary. Connect your drive to a Mac than runs OSX 10.6 or 10.7 or any Linux computer that uses decimal numbers and you’ll see the whole 500GB, which is also the exact same as 465GB binary.


  1. The drive can be completely reformatted (and all preinstalled files wiped out).

The virtual unlocker CD and drive password stay intact.

After complete reformatting I still could download the latest SmartWare version and install it on my primary disk.

It recognized the WD drive and let configure backup.

(the latest version is named “update” but it is a complete installer ) 

So restoration of the WD preinstalled files after reformatting is not needed.

6. Based on the negative opinions of other users on SmartWare, I decided not to use it for backups, just to enable the drive password. This is a really smart feature of SmartWare that the password works  independently from the backup part.

You can install SmartWare and set the password in a throw-away virtual machine and keep your main system perfectly clean (or suffering from whatever backup software you got there).

The bottom line: this little drive is surprisingly good …  Crossing my fingers…

  • ddbug